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Current Night Sky

(For July’s information, scroll down.)

Manitoba Skies – June 2021

June’s skies are the least-dark of the year for Manitobans, as the time around the summer solstice keeps us in perpetual twilight (a less-extreme version of the “midnight sun” situation for areas farther north). Still, warmer nights and the rising of the Milky Way make June nights great for stargazing. We also have a partial solar eclipse visible from most of the province this month!

Sunrise Solar Eclipse – June 10, 2021

From Winnipeg, the rising sun will appear similar to this view shot during the 2017 eclipse. [Image: Scott Young]

On the morning of Thursday, June 10, 201, early risers will see an unusual site: a partially-eclipsed sun will rise that morning. This event is best visible from northwestern Ontario and points north, where the Moon will cross the center of the sun, leaving only a thin ring of sunlight visible – an annular or “ring” eclipse. With the Ontario border closed at the time of this writing, it’s unlikely Manitobans will be able to see more than the partial phase of this event.

The eclipse is already well underway as the sun rises for Manitobans – check here to see the exact time of sunrise for your location. For Winnipeg and the southern part of the province, the sun will be about half-eclipsed at sunrise; for points farther north, more of the sun will be eclipsed. Churchill will see nearly 85% of the sun covered a few minutes after sunrise, leaving just a thin crescent visible.

To observe the solar eclipse, you have three options. NOTE: NEVER LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN WITHOUT A SPECIAL SOLAR FILTER! You can permanently damage your eyesight or risk blindness by looking at the Sun without proper precautions.

  1. You can use eclipse glasses like the ones that were sold for the 2017 solar eclipse that crossed North America. If you still have some of these around, ensure that the silver foil “lenses” don’t have any scratches of pinholes in them. If you don’t have eclipse glasses, a #14 welder’s filter (available from welding supply stores) is safe. (Only #14 – not lower numbers!)
  2. You can follow the instructions here to turn a pair of binoculars into a solar projector. Make sure you follow the instructions carefully, and turn the binoculars away from the sun every few minutes to let them cool down.
  3. You can watch online. Several sites plan to stream the eclipse live, although travel restrictions might make this difficult. We’ll post a list of sites closer to eclipse day that will have active links.

There are a number of materials that people think might be safe to use, but are not. DO NOT use any of the following materials to look at the sun directly: sunglasses, mylar balloons, CDs/DVDs, smoked glass, or dark plastic or glass. If you have a telescope, you must use a special solar filter than covers the front of the telescope, and that probably cost at least $100. Do not use telescope filters that go into the eyepiece end, where the sun’s light is concentrated. These filters can shatter due to the heat and blind you in an instant.

The eclipse lasts less than an hour after sunrise for most locations in the province, but it’s still an interesting sight even though we aren’t in the best location. By watching the moon progressively uncover the sun as it rises, you are witnessing the effects of your planet’s rotation and the effect of the Moon’s orbit around us in real time.

For detailed predictions for your location, visit https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/map/2021-june-10 and select your location on the map.

Solar System

Mercury is too close to the sun to be easily visible this month. In July it will reappear in the morning sky.

Venus is visible low in the evening sky after sunset as a brilliant white “star” low in the west-northwest. It sets about 90 minutes after the sun.

Mars is still trying to stay in the evening sky, slowly climbing through the stars of the constellation Gemini. It is to the left of and slightly above the Moon on the evening of May 15th. By month’s end it forms a crooked line with Castor and Pollux, the two brightest stars in Gemini. (Mars is the left object in the line, and the dimmest of the three.)

Jupiter rises about 2 am in the southeast sky at the beginning of the month and near midnight by month’s end. The angle of the planet’s orbit with our horizon means that it stays quite low in the southeastern sky until dawn.

Saturn rises about 45 minutes before Jupiter in the southeast as well, and stays low until dawn like its larger sibling.

Both Jupiter and Saturn will be rising higher each month and will put on a good show in the summer and fall of 2021.

Sky Calendar

All times are given in Central Daylight Time (UTC-5), the regular time for Manitoba this month. (Note that the phases on the Moon are adjusted for our time zone, and so they may not match the dates on your calendar which may use either Greenwich time or Eastern Time, depending on where it was published.) All sky views are created with Stellarium software (stellarium.org).

1 Jun 2021 (pre-dawn): The waning gibbous moon is near Jupiter in the pre-dawn sky.

2 Jun 2021: Last Quarter Moon

3 Jun 2021: Our weekly astronomy show, [email protected], airs live at 7 pm CDT on Zoom, Facebook, and YouTube. This week, we’ll focus on next week’s partial solar eclipse visible from Manitoba. Find the details here.

10 Jun 2021 (sunrise): New Moon and partial solar eclipse (see article above).

10 Jun 2021 (evening): Our weekly astronomy show, [email protected], airs live at 7 pm CDT on Zoom, Facebook, and YouTube. We’ll hopefully have images and video of this morning’s partial solar eclipse, and look ahead to the April 2024 total solar eclipse that crosses North America. Find the details here.

13 Jun 2021: The thin crescent moon is near Mars low in the evening sky at dusk.

17 Jun 2021: Our weekly astronomy show, [email protected], airs live at 7 pm CDT on Zoom, Facebook, and YouTube. We’ll celebrate the upcoming summer solstice and get ready for summer stargazing.  Find the details here.

20 Jun 2021: Summer Solstice occurs at 10:32 pm CDT, marking the official beginning of summer.

24 Jun 2021: Our weekly astronomy show, [email protected], airs live at 7 pm CDT on Zoom, Facebook, and YouTube. We’ll look at the upcoming planetary alignment of Jupiter, Saturn and the Moon over the next week.  Find the details here.

26-27 Jun 2021: The waning gibbous moon is below Saturn  in the morning sky.

27-28 Jun 2021: The Moon is between Saturn and Jupiter this morning.

28-29 Jun 2021: The Moon is below Jupiter this morning.

To see when the International Space Station passes over southern Manitoba, click here. You can find times for other locations across Manitoba and throughout the world, as well as times for other orbiting objects,  by visiting Heavens-above.com and entering your location here.

 

Manitoba Skies – July 2021

The Summer Triangle and the Milky Way are well-placed for Canadian stargazers during the summer months.

Summer nights may be short, but what they lack in duration they make up for in quality. During July, the night time side of Earth faces in towards the center of our Milky Way galaxy, providing the densest star fields and a huge number of bright celestial sights for the backyard stargazer. Summer is a perfect time to try out a pair of binoculars on the sky. The two lenses are basically side-by-side telescopes, and can provide great views of the Moon, the planet Jupiter, and the star clusters and nebulae found along the Milky Way.

Solar System

Mercury is in the morning sky, but its low angle with our horizon in Canada will make it hard to spot.

Venus is visible low in the west-northwest immediately after sunset, and is visible for an hour or so before setting. On the 11th through the 13th it passes close to Mars (see Sky Calendar entry below).

Mars begins the month to the left and slightly above Venus in the western sky after sunset, although it is much fainter and you may not spot it without binoculars. It sinks lower each night, passing Venus on July 12th (see Sky Calendar entry below). By month’s end we will lose sight of Mars in the bright twilight as it heads for its passage behind the Sun.

Jupiter rises near midnight in the southeast, and remains low all night. By the end of the month it rises about 10:30 p.m. A pair of binoculars will reveal several tiny “stars” lined up near Jupiter – these are some of Jupiter’s largest moons.

Saturn rises in the southeast after 11 p.m. at the beginning of the month, and about 9 p.m. by month’s end. It moves low along the south, never getting high enough to clear the turbulent air near the horizon. The nearly-full Moon is nearby on the 23rd and 24th (see Sky Calendar entry below).

Both Jupiter and Saturn will be rising higher each month and will put on a good show in the summer and fall of 2021.

Sky Calendar

All times are given in Central Daylight Time (UTC-5), the regular time for Manitoba this month. (Note that the phases on the Moon are adjusted for our time zone, and so they may not match the dates on your calendar which may use either Greenwich time or Eastern Time, depending on where it was published.) All sky views are created with Stellarium software (stellarium.org).

1 Jul 2021: Canada Day marks the launch of [email protected] Season 3. [email protected] is the planetarium’s weekly astronomy show, running every Thursday Night at 7 p.m. Central via Zoom, Facebook Live, and YouTube Live. Tonight’s holiday episode is pre-recorded and features a tour of the Milky Way galaxy as seen throughout the summer sky.

1 Jul 2021: Last Quarter Moon.

5 Jul 2021: The planet earth reaches aphelion, its greatest distance from the sun in its not-quite-circular orbit. The distance only varies by a few percent, but this is one reason why southern hemisphere summers (which occur in December) are hotter than northern hemisphere ones: the tilt of the earth and the distance work against each other for the north, and combine to amplify the effect in the south. (For reference, at aphelion the Earth will be 152,100,527 km from the Sun, as opposed to 147,093,163 km at perihelion on January 2. See this explanation for further details.)

9 Jul 2021: New Moon. (Your calendar might say July’s new moon is on the 10th, and it is… if you are using Greenwich Time, which is what most astronomical calculations are done in. Once you adjust for the time zone, though, this new moon occurs before midnight on the 9th for viewers in Canada.)

11 Jul 2021: Venus and Mars are close in the early evening sky, very low in the west-northwest after sunset. Although the 12th is the closest approach, the view tonight will be just as good. Binoculars may be needed to spot faint Mars in the bright twilight.

12 Jul 2021: Venus and Mars pass within 1 degree of each other in the evening sky. Although tonight is the closest approach, the view for the night before and after will be just as good. Binoculars may be needed to spot faint Mars in the bright twilight.

13 Jul 2021: Venus and Mars are close in the early evening sky, very low in the west-northwest after sunset. Although the 12th is the closest approach, the view tonight will be just as good. Binoculars may be needed to spot faint Mars in the bright twilight.

17 Jul 2021: First Quarter moon.

23 Jul 2021: Full Moon

23-24 Jul 2021: Saturn is above and to the left of the moon tonight.Jul 23-24

24-25 Jul 2021: The moon is between Jupiter and Saturn. Saturn is above and to the right; Jupiter, the brighter or the two, is on the left.

25-26 Jul 2021: Jupiter is above the moon tonight; Saturn is off to the upper right.

26-27 Jul 2021: The waning gibbous moon, Jupiter, and Saturn form a crooked line in the sky tonight.

29-30 Jul 2021: The annual South Delta Aquariid meteor shower peaks in the pre-dawn hours of the 30th. Don’t expect much, though: the usual peak is only about 10-20 meteors per hour in the hours before sunrise, and the bright gibbous moon will light up the morning sky and wash many of them out. You may catch a few, but you’ll have much better luck during the Perseids in August.

31 Jul 2021: Last Quarter Moon

To see when the International Space Station passes over southern Manitoba, click here. You can find times for other locations across Manitoba and throughout the world, as well as times for other orbiting objects,  by visiting Heavens-above.com and entering your location here.

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